Demos Helsinki Impact Model

Our Societal Impact

The reason for the existence of Demos Helsinki is motivated by the urge for societal transformation. Demos Helsinki Impact model is a tool to make this transformation explicit and to steer our operations towards societal impact. We will not reach this goal within closed doors. We will reach it together. The impact model helps us to deliberate and assess the impact we wish to have in the world.

At Demos Helsinki, we have always chosen structures, business models, leadership approaches, and operative decisions according to our goals. It hasn’t always been successful. We have had methods to talk about how impact is delivered, but lacked a model to put our direction under scrutiny.

We believe that organisations need to be transparent about their direction. It’s not enough to make pledges for carbon neutrality or just societies. It’s time to be specific.

This is the starting point for development of the Demos Helsinki impact model. Below you see the initial form it has taken, and here is a link to a more detailed documentation. It’s by no means complete, nor will it most likely ever be. 

Demos Helsinki impact model is built from three elements


Ethos describes why we exist, how we want the future to be, and what our approach is in doing the things we do to arrive there. 


Demos Helsinki focuses its work on four leverages critical for pushing forward the transformation we wish to see in the world. If we manage to pull these leverages in desired directions, we have the potential to contribute to paradigmatic system-level shifts that transform societies toward a more fair, sustainable, and joyful future while not exceeding our hard limits.

Hard Limits

Hard limits create the urgency for our work: they define what kinds of futures we wish to avoid and, consequently, to what type of development we refuse to contribute. 

Living the impact model into reality

The impact model is a living document that should improve and grow when put into action. Our work provides tools to develop and challenge the impact model through research, action, and imagination. So far, the impact model has been developed systematically inside Demos Helsinki, and now it needs to be co-developed with all our stakeholders: clients in the public and private sector, research partners, and the Untitled community.

Demos Helsinki is building on the remarkable work done in the field by many different organisations. Many well-developed methodologies to understand the impact on societal change already exist. There are good ways to manage the complexity of systems change through using a portfolio of approaches. We are committed to be part of developing these models further by increasing the resolution of the synthesis.

We believe this model helps us find the direction and energy to change the world. We can’t just read it as a map, but keep drawing it, repeatedly.